Jasper, TX March 16- After two months of waiting, the FORD SETX Champions Series presented by Skeeter Boats was finally able to get back on their home lake of Sam Rayburn this past Saturday. Tournament Coordinator Stephanie Ryder was as happy as anyone, "Big Sam is home base and we all feel better when we get to spend the weekend here with our kids and captains" said Ryder. "After having the first two tournaments cancelled due to high water in the lake, we are all happy to get back to the #1 bass lake in the country" concluded Ryder. 

Saturday was also the first time that SETX was able to put to use their new state of the art live release trailer on Sam Rayburn. "We used it at Toledo, but we only had a shade over 200 fish to put in it because of how tough Toledo was fishing. This weekend, we should get close to 1000 fish and really test its capabilities" said SETX Board member Tom Selman of PNG. The new trailer is fitted with a dissolved oxygen system and 4 high capacity pumps to move 3000 gallons of water throughout the tank. The tank is also equipped with a "hospital" tank to treat those fish that may need fizzing and extra attention. " It's been 2 1/2 years in the making, but SETX is committed to keeping Rayburn's resources as healthy as possible" concluded Selman. 

If you were a spectator at the tournament this past weekend, you probably noticed 10 new shiny red picnic tables surrounding the pavilion. Anyone who has been around for a few years knows that these were needed desperately at the pavilion. All of those tables were donated to the Umphrey Pavilion by SETX HS Fishing and its member schools. "We use this place as much as anyone and we felt it was the right thing to do" said SETX President Bryan Thomas. "We saw a need and wanted to do something for the pavilion. They have been good to us over the years." concluded Thomas. 

As for the fishing, Big Sam rarely disappoints, but rapidly falling water levels have the fish in quite the conundrum for mid March. "The fish want go shallow and there are fish to be caught shallow, but the corps has been pulling water at a rate of about a foot a week and it has them a bit confused" said Tourney Director John Salamone. "We will see, but look for the better fish will be caught in the 6-12 foot range today" concluded Salamone. 


 Tackle Addict First Place Team- 21.28 LBS- Barbers Hill HS- Riley Bailey and Paden Dugat- Boat Captain Jim Dugat

Having pre-fished the day before, the freshman duo from Barbers Hill had a pretty good plan coming into tournament day. "We were able to able to find a few fish near drains and flats in Ayish Bayou that had hydrilla in them" said Capt Dugat. Having launched at Mill Creek Park, the team reported fishing one single area in the 6-12 foot range and the water being slightly off color in the targeted area. Lews rods and reels armed with Alabama rigs was their choice of lures as they chose to sit on their spot and grind out a limit of fish before 10 am. Included in that limit of fish was a very healthy SETX record breaking fish of 11.61 LBS! To make things real interesting, the team accidentally kicked their landing net overboard the day before and had to land the fish without one! "That would have made the day a lot less stressful had we had a net" said Capt Dugat. The team wished to thank SETX and all of its volunteers for offering such a great opportunity to the kids of Southeast Texas. Thank you to Lews for all of the generous donations. A special thanks also to Lance Murphy for his dedication to building the Barbers Hill program. Lastly, the team wished to thank all of those other teams who congratulated them during and after the weigh in ceremony. 

Second Place Team- 20.44 LBS- Huntington HS- Adyson Stringer and Abram Boles- Boat Captain Bradley Stringer

Ask any competitive fisherman and he/she will tell you that decisions on the water can make or break a day. Launching at Monterey Park and burning a bit of gas was on the menu for the team from Huntington and it paid off with a 2nd place finish on Saturday as they brought 20.44 LBS to the SETX scales. "The kids made the decisions today and I cant say how proud I am of them" said Capt Bradley Stringer. Dragging Carolina rigs and throwing deep diving crankbaits on hard bottom in 10-12 feet of water was the ticket. Lews rods and reels spooled with 20 Lb fluorocarbon handled the 5 and 6 LB fish with ease. "We had just about an hour left and the kids wanted to make a run and go back to where they had caught fish that morning. I told them the run would leave them with only about 30 minutes to fish. As soon as we got there, they began some serious culling and was able to get their stringer to 20 +pounds in short order" concluded Capt. Stringer. The team wished to thank Lonnie Stanley and everyone at Stanley Jigs in Huntington. 

 Third Place Team- 19.95 LBS- Buna HS- Zach Busby and Coby Farnie- Boat Captain Nathan Prine

Considering having not been on Rayburn at all this year, a third place finish in a 500 boat event has to be pretty satisfying. Launching at San Augustine Park, the team from Buna targeted the lower to mid lake areas looking for Hydrilla edges and buck brush in the 6-12 foot range using swin jigs. "We caught three pretty nice fish and broke a rod before 9:30 and then things got slow" said Capt Prine. The team reported trying to find fish in creeks, but eventually settled back in on the type of structure that gave up the 3 quality fish early that morning. "We moved around a lot trying to duplicate what we had found that morning and finally were able to do so and finish out our limit, which included a very nice 8.55 Lb kicker" concluded Capt Prine. The team wished to thank all the sponsors and volunteers that make this possible for our kids to experience the outdoors and the competition of fishing as a sport. 


Rest of Top Ten 

4th Place- 18.76 LBS- Lumberton- Easton Anderson and Ty Cruse

5th Place- 18.47 LBS- Hamshire Fannett- Trent Buchholz and Grady Doucet

6th Place- 17.75 LBS- Woodville- Braden Clifton

7th Place- 16.68 LBS- Evadale- Parker Moye and Lane Vinson

8th Place- 15.85 LBS- PNG- Brock Lane and Hayden Wallace

9th Place- 15.81 LBS- Kirbyville- Cody Sanders and Michael Smith

10th Place- 15.65 LBS- Barbers Hill- Gavin Broadway and Brett Creel


Top 3 Big Bass

1st Place- 11.61 LBS (New SETX Record) Riley Bailey and Paden Dugat- Barbers Hill

2nd Place- 9.73 LBS Brock Lane and Hayden Wallace- PNG

3rd Place- 9.08 LBS Trent Buchholz and Grady Doucet- Hamshire Fannett


V&M Baits/Leak Sealers Conservation Prize Winners

After a tough day on the water, the team of Kayla Coffman and Tate George of New Caney decided to snap a photo of their small fish and release it. They then showed that photo at the LEAKSEALERS Conservation Booth and entered their team # into the Conservation Prize Drawing and were the lucky winners of $500.00 from LEAK SEALERS. Thank you to LEAK SEALERS sponsoring this wonderful program!! For more information on how your team can be the next winner, please contact your advisor.


The SETX board wanted to make sure they sent out many THANKS to the all the volunteers who helped last Saturday. Your time and your patience is absolutely necessary for the success of this organization. We simply cannot thank all of you enough for your efforts. THANK YOU ALL.

Lastly, the board wanted to make sure that all of you take the time to go by the many sponsor booth's at the tournaments and say "HI" and "thank you" for supporting the young anglers of Southeast Texas. As always, please remember these companies when it comes time to make your own personal purchases!! They are supporting us, so please support them. When out and about, let these people know you support them because they support SETX HS Fishing. 


THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE SETX SPONSORS for helping make SETX the premiere HS Fishing Trail in the country!!!

South Texas Ford Dealers Assn, Skeeter Boats/Yamaha, Tackle Addict, Costa, Lews, Leak Sealers Inc., Rat L Trap, Rod Armorz, Houston Methodist Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Vicious Fishing Line, Culprit Lures, Big Bite Baits, Crystal Heigley and the Allman Real Estate Team.

For full results, or more information about all of our sponsors, please visit www.setxhighschoolfishing.com or visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/setxhighschoolfishing/


Story by Jet Donovan